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Team Thackeray, Eknath Shinde asked to submit documents to prove majority

New Delhi: The battle between Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde for control of the Shiv Sena has moved to a new phase – both will have to give documentary evidence to prove who would lead the party.

The Election Commission has asked both sides to give the documents by August 8, after which the constitutional body will hear the matter.

The two sides will also have to give written statements detailing their views on the dispute in the party, which surfaced after Mr Shinde and nearly 40 MLAs revolted last month and formed a new government, with support of the BJP. Former Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis became Mr Shinde’s deputy in the new set-up.

In a letter to the Election Commission, Team Shinde claimed it has the support of 40 out of 55 MLAs and 12 out of 18 Lok Sabha MPs.

“…It is evident that there is a split in the Shiv Sena, one group of which is being led by Eknath Shinde and the other group is being led by Uddhav Thackeray, both the groups claim to be the real Shiv Sena with their leader being the alleged president of Shiv Sena party,” the Election Commission said in the notice to the two camps.

“In order to place both the rival groups on an even keel and to protect their rights and interests, and going by the past precedence, the commission has directed that the documents submitted by the rival groups be exchanged and reply/written submissions be invited from the two groups,” the Election Commission said, adding it will take the next step for a “substantive hearing” only after getting the documentary evidence and written statements.

The Shinde camp had asked the Maharashtra assembly Speaker to disqualify Team Thackeray. The Supreme Court on July 11, however, told Speaker Rahul Narwekar not to proceed with the plea seeking Team Thackeray’s disqualification.

The Shinde camp has said their Sena rivals need to be disqualified for defying the party whip during the trust vote and the election of the Speaker last month.

Both camps have been asked to frame by July 27 issues for consideration by a larger bench of the Supreme Court, and the matter would be heard on August 1.